Creating a “new” derived dataset for Nipype workshop

For more information about the workshop, please visit . As we will present git-annex and DataLad, I have decided to prepare a DataLad dataset from the tarball Satrajit Ghosh has shared URL to. That tarball is a trimmed down version of OpenfMRI ds000114 dataset which we also crawl and provide as a DataLad dataset.

Deriving (cloning) a dataset

I have decided to first create a superdataset for the workshop (may be more datasets besides ds114 will be later) outside of our master superdataset which we distribute from . So I just created a new dataset in a random directory. I wanted our ds114 dataset to be “derived” from original openfmri ds000114 dataset so we could readily reuse all the knowledge git-annex has about where files might be coming from. To achieve that I have just installed existing ds000114 dataset into our superdataset:

# Create dataset
datalad create --no-annex nipype-workshop-2017
cd nipype-workshop-2017
datalad install -d . ///openfmri/ds000114
cd ds000114

To make both original and this derived dataset accessible from the same repo I generated a detached branch (since I did not know at that point on which version of openfmri it is based on). And then added content from the tarball available from the OSF.

A few tricky points which you do not necessarily would run into in a more typical workflow:

  • since branch is detached, it would be empty to start with, but we want to preserve the settings within .gitattributes (such as git annex backend). I could have just git add .gitattributes after checkout –orphan but I haven’t thought about that and created a new file from scratch.
  • Original openfmri dataset did not have settings within .gitattributes to add all text files straight into git, so I have added those settings within a new .gitattributes . For more about settings git-annex understands as to what files should it handled (largefiles) or otherwise just pass to git to handle see .
cat .gitattributes                  # sneak preview
git checkout --orphan nipype_test1  # generate a new detached branch
git clean -dfx                      # remove
git reset --hard                    # everything, to end up with super clean directory

#  I did vim .gitattributes, but replacing here with echo
echo -e "* annex.backend=MD5E
* annex.largefiles=(not(mimetype=text/*))
" > .gitattributes

datalad add --to-git .gitattributes  # storing this file within git, default commit msg

Adding new content from a tarball off the web

Next goal was to download and add to annex the tarball Satra prepared for the workshop, and add its content under git-annex control. In datalad we have ‘download-url’ command, BUT unfortunately it has failed to download via https for this website (see issue 1416 if resolved already) So I have reverted to using git annex directly which uses wget which worked out correctly

# download (~800MB) and add that file under git-annex without
git annex addurl --file=ds114_test1_with_freesurfer.tar.gz "$URL"

datalad save -m "Downloaded the tarball with derived data into annex"
datalad add-archive-content --delete --strip-leading-dirs ds114_test1_with_freesurfer.tar.gz

Above add-archive-content command extracted content from the archive, stripping leading directory, and added all extracted files under git/git-annex using those rules specified in .gitattributes file:

  • use MD5E (annex keys are based on md5 checksum with extension appended) backend
  • add text files directly under git control, so only binary files are added under annex control and the entire repository’s .git/objects is only around 30MB while pointing to all openfmri releases, and this derived data

Peering inside

Because I have reused original ///openfmri/ds000114 dataset, I have gained knowledge about all the files which originated from that dataset. E.g. compare output of whereis command on sub-01/anat (which is also available from original openfmri) and derivatives:

# in case of a fake tarball, output will not be very interesting
git annex whereis sub-01/anat
git annex whereis derivatives

and you can see that derivatives are available only locally or from “magical” datalad-archives remote which refers to the original tarball. So, even if we drop those files locally, they could get extracted from the tarball. And even if you do not have a tarball, git-annex would happily first download it from the OSF website for you.

Adding dataset into bigger dataset

Having succeeded with construction of the dataset, I have decided to share it as a part of our bigger super dataset at . This dataset was the first workshop dataset which was not part of some bigger collection, so I have decided to establish a new subdataset workshops within it, and move our nipy workshop superdataset into it.

# since in demo we do not have anything there, let's clone our superdataset
datalad install ///
cd datasets*

# -redone because now already has workshops dataset
# and datalad should refuse to create a new one (without removing old one first)
datalad create -d . workshops-redone  # create subdataset to hold various workshops datasets
cd workshops-redone
mv "$TOPDIR/nipype-workshop-2017" nipype-2017  # chose shorter name
# add it as a subdataset (git submodule) within
datalad add -d . nipype-2017

Adding meta-data descriptors for the dataset(s)

If you ever ran datalad search you know that one of the goals of DataLad is to use metadata associated with the datasets.

# created some dataset_description.json (following BIDS format lazy me)
echo -e '{"Name": "Datasets for various workshops",\n "BIDSVersion": "1.0.0"}' > dataset_description.json
# and tell datalad that this is using the BIDS metadata standard
git config --file .datalad/config --add datalad.metadata.nativetype bids
# add that file to git
datalad add --to-git --nosave dataset_description.json
# discover and aggregate all meta-data within workshops
datalad aggregate-metadata --nosave -r
# and finally save all accumulated changes from above commands
# while also updating the topmost superdataset about this changes under 'workshops'
datalad save -d'^' -m "Added dataset description and aggregated meta-data" -r
# go upstairs and aggregate meta-information across its direct datasets without recursing
# (since might take awhile)
cd ..
datalad aggregate-metadata


NB instructions here might diverge a little from what was actually performed

Now it was time to publish this dataset as a part of our larger super-dataset. Because our demo superdataset is just a clone (or sibling) of original one, it does not have information about where it must be published to. So we first can create a sibling on remote server where we want also to deploy our web-frontend and then create similar siblings for every

datalad create-sibling --shared all \
   -s public --ui=true \
   --publish-by-default 'refs/heads/*' \
   --publish-by-default 'refs/tags/*' \

datalad create-sibling -s public --inherit -r --existing skip

By default DataLad does not publish any data, and in above create-sibling we also did not provide any –annex-wanted settings to instruct annex about what data should be published to our public sibling. So I decided to provide additional instructions for annex directly about what data files I want to be published online from our website. Since original files under sub-* subdirectories are available from original OpenfMRI S3 bucket, we really needed to publish only derivatives/* files, which we can describe via

git -C workshops-redone/nipype-2017/ds000114 annex wanted public 'include=derivatives/*'

And now I was ready to publish changes to the entire collection of datasets with a set of files we decided to share

datalad publish -r --to=public

Above commands created empty repositories for all the datasets we have locally and now I was ready to “publish” our datasets… Just a few final touches

There is a <”shortcoming”>__ which was discovered just now, because it was the first time we published datasets from non-master branch (nipype_test1). Default branch on the remote where we published is master, so we need to checkout nipype_test1 branch and re-run out hooks/post-update hook to re-generate meta-data for dataset listing on web-frontend. Hopefully this portion of explanation will disappear with DataLad 0.5.1 or later ;-)

  cd $PUBLISHDIR/workshops-redone/nipype-2017/ds000114
  git checkout nipype_test1
  # rerun the hook to regenerate meta-data for web-frontend
  cd .git;  hooks/post-update

If I do any future changes, and save them, it should be sufficient to just rerun this publish command (possibly even without explicit –to=public) and have all datasets updated online, with data files under derivatives/ in that repository posted as well.


If the location where we published our datasets is served by any http server, they now could be used from that location by others, while having complete history of changes stored in annex, and data files available either from that location or from original openfmri S3 bucket.

If you do not have published to location served by a web server, as the case in our demo script, we could easily start one using the one which comes with Python:

# Starting webserver
python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8080 1>/dev/null 2>&1 &
# we started webserver and can browse
browser=$(which x-www-browser 2>/dev/null)
if $browser; then
    echo "Opening browser to visit $PUBLISHURL which would allow to browse $PUBLISHDIR content"
    $browser $PUBLISHURL &
    echo "Visit http://localhost:8080 in your browser."
echo "

On that page
Press Enter when you want to finish

kill %2 && echo "stopped browser(?)" || :  # killing our browser job if any
kill %1 && echo "stopped server"

Since DataLad datasets are just git/git-annex repositories, we could as well publish them to multiple locations, including, only without data. See datalad-create-sibling-github and –publish-depends option to instruct to publish first to our public http server which will host the data and then to for more visibility and collaboration.